The king of cross-platform content: Sam Galanis, supervisor, connection strategy, UM Canada

Next Media Star contender Sam Galanis got teens singing with Coca-Cola Covers.

Claim to fame
A brief stating that Coca-Cola Canada wanted to reinvigorate itself in the hearts and minds of teenagers through music would be a daunting task for most. Undeterred by the scope of the request, Sam Galanis, supervisor, connection strategy, UM Canada, and his team came up with the Coca-Cola Covers program. 
The idea really began with Justin Bieber’s rise to superstardom by way of YouTube. Now kids everywhere are posting videos of themselves performing songs. This trend provided the insight Galanis and his team used to create Covers, which was developed in partnership with MuchMusic. Teens were encouraged to submit videos of themselves performing one of six hit songs to and then leverage their social networks to get votes. Three finalists will be flown to the MMVAs this month, where one will win a Covers award.
The program was promoted online and on TV, the top 10 vids have been shown on Much programming like New Music Live, and the Coke brand has been earning social capital all the way through by being a topic of discussion in social networks.  
“The strategy was to make something that teens thought they were a part of and something that only Coke could do,” says Galanis. “[Coca-Cola and Much] are two great brands. We knew that together we could do something bigger than 30-second spots that naturally played across platforms.”
Covers has exceeded expectations. Following a six-week casting call, which wrapped at the end of April, the number of submissions to the program tripled estimates. It was also one of Much’s top 10 content pillars in terms of page views in March. 
Galanis and his team also executed a version of the Covers program in Quebec through a partnership with MusiquePlus called Les Covers. The entry process was the same, but the reward wasn’t. They worked with MusiquePlus to revive a program it hadn’t aired since 2001, called Artiste du Mois (Artist of the Month), an intimate concert for teens. Three winners from Les Covers had the chance to perform their song live, opening for one of three bands featured on the show.

About Galanis
Galanis, 30, is originally from Markham, ON. He graduated from Seneca College in 2003, then from Centennial College’s advertising program in 2007. He landed at J3 Canada right out of school, leaving in 2009 to go to Starcom to work on the Nintendo and Jim Beam accounts. He moved to UM in October to work on Coca-Cola.

What’s appealing about working with a big brand like Coke?
“They demand innovation. Coca-Cola gets to play in spaces that a lot of other brands don’t get to. There are a lot of global resources to leverage and lots of learning, but there’s also lots of room to grow.”

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